Tag Archives: surrey

North Downs Way: Seale to Farnham (and a bus to Alton)

12 Jun

Today we finished off last week’s walk, and it was equally disappointing, but the day wasn’t a complete waste because as it was only a short walk it gave us time to visit the nearby town of Alton, Hampshire.

This section was short, only four miles (hardly worth the effort) and pretty flat, very short on points of interest and largely devoid of any interesting views.

River outside Farnham

We did pass through some quite nice woodland (Runfold Wood), and some of the path was alongside the River Wey, which was quite nice, but after two weeks largely devoid of hills it is high time we got back to Kent and some proper hills.

Farnham is quite a nice town, or at least what I have seen of it, and it marks the start or end of the North Downs Way. The actual start/end is marked by a fingerpost at the side of a rather busy road junction bristling with traffic lights, hardly a fitting point to start or end the North Downs Way.

Start or End of North Downs Way

The only saving grace for today was the chance to catch the bus from Farnham, Surrey to Alton, Hampshire. Alton was the home of my 3x great-grandparents Henry and Sarah WRIGHT. Although time was limited, we found time to visit St Lawrence Church (below) and Market Square where the WRIGHT family lived.

St Lawrence's Church, Alton, Hampshire

The visit was really just a scouting trip, getting my bearings, having a quick poke around and buying a decent map of the town. Alton has some lovely buildings, some interesting history, a small local history museum, a steam railway and an unusual war memorial (below). I am clearly going to have to go back to Alton and explore further.

War Memorial - Alton, Hampshire

The 2010 South of England Postcard Fair, Woking, Surrey

23 May

It had been quite a while since I had been to a postcard fair at Woking Leisure Centre, in Woking, Surrey, although I did go to the leisure centre in October last year for the family history fair.

The leisure centre is a great venue for a postcard fair (and a family history fair) because it has all the facilities that you could need on site, such as a restaurant and plenty of car parking. There is also plenty of space to move around and most importantly for me it is just a short walk (less than 10 minutes) from Woking railway station.

The fair was held over two days (Friday 21st May and Saturday 22nd May), with a specialist modern postcard fair included on the Saturday as well. There were supposed to be over 75 dealers (spread over more than 110 stalls) over the whole weekend, but I didn’t count them. There were certainly more than enough to keep me busy for almost four hours, before my money ran out and I decided I needed to start heading home.

It wasn’t just postcard dealers, although were in the majority, there were dealers selling accessories (albums and pages), cigarette cards, ephemera and most surprisingly for me someone selling old Ordnance Survey maps, something I had never seen before.

So was it worth me going? I would have to say “yes”. The cost of admission was only £2 (£3 on Friday) and with such a large number of dealers it was inevitable that I would be able to add to my collection. I came away with eight postcards, several of which were incredible bargains, and one Ordnance Survey map (a 6” to the mile, 1912 edition of Henfield, Sussex).

There was however on item which I would have loved to have bought, a professional and probably unique photo of the shop in Hailsham which once belonged to my GEERING ancestors. The photo was a lot later than when my ancestors were there (probably by 60 or 70 years so) and the shop front had changed quite a bit since their time, so I couldn’t really justify the £30 asking price!

The fair was organised by Specialist Postcard & Paper Fairs, their website has details of their upcoming fairs, the next one being at Twickenham on the 16th and 17th July 2010. Time to start saving my pennies!

… and whilst we are on the subject, where do I get my indecisiveness from?

22 May

Why do I find it so hard to make a decision? Is it something I inherited from one of my ancestors? If so, which one?

All of these questions crossed my mind as I tried to decide what I was going to do today. In truth I had known that I had to make a decision for several days, but had been putting it off.

My two options for today were walking another section of the South Downs Way or going to the postcard fair at Woking, Surrey. There were of course other options, such as staying at home and doing nothing, but I had at least narrowed it down to these two possibilities.

I could always toss a coin for it, but the logical side of me thinks that I should be able to make the decision without using luck. The problem is that although I can see all the advantages and disadvantages for each of the options, it still doesn’t help me make up my mind either way.

So it makes me wonder, did my ancestors have the any difficultly making decisions? If I had a time machine would I be able to go back and find my ancestors sitting on the fence?

Their decisions probably wouldn’t have been quite so trivial as mine, but is indecisiveness something that gets passed down through the generations, or something you learn from those around you?

Milestone Monday: North Downs Way

26 Apr

I can’t promise that this is going to be a regular post for my blog, although I might be able to find a few more examples whilst out wandering. It doesn’t have anything to do with genealogy, except for the fact that it looks a bit like a headstone (which is why I took the photo).

North Downs Milestone

Just by chance I had a look at the back of the milestone and found there was an inscription on the back which reads: THIS MILESTONE WAS PLACED TO COMMEMORATE THE WORK UNDERTAKEN BY KENT COUNTY COUNCIL AND THE COUNTRYSIDE COMMISSION ON THE NORTH DOWNS WAY NATIONAL TRAIL 1993

It is place by the side of a private road named The Ave, which runs across the North Downs, to the north of Westerham, Kent. We are heading towards Dover, so we only have another 77 miles to go!

According to the guidebook for the North Downs Way this stone marks the boundary of the counties of Surrey (on the left) and Kent (on the right), although I have not been able to verify this on the map.

All wandering and no genealogy

24 Apr

Today my friend Chris and I continued our walk along the North Downs Way. It was our first proper walk of the year, but hopefully the first of many. We picked up more or less where we left of last year.

We are slowly working eastwards along the North Downs between Farnham in Surrey and Dover in Kent, although we are generally heading eastwards, each section seems to have been walked from east to west for some unknown reason.

Today was no exception, we started from Otford, Kent and made our way westwards to Oxted, Surrey. The total distance was about 14 miles including the final stretch from the hills to the centre of Oxted and the railway station. Despite being on hills, most of the route was pretty level with only one steep climb at the start.

I quite liked Otford. It was the first time I have been there and it is quite a charming place. We counted four pubs within the first mile of our walk, three or four antique shops and a small pond in the centre of the town/village. There is even a heritage centre, which wasn’t open when we went past. I wish I had an excuse to go back again, perhaps one day I will.

The weather was absolutely fantastic, the sun shone and remarkably I was in a short sleeve shirt and shorts. I can’t believe it is only April and I am already wearing shorts. The ground is incredibly dry, we haven’t had any proper rain for three weeks now. This fills me with optimism about the summer weather, but I am trying not to get my hopes up, rather I am making the most of the good weather whilst it lasts.

There were only two negative points from today’s walk, the presence of the M25 motorway, the noise of which was a constant companion throughout the day. The other drawback was that there was still a slight haze, so the views were not as spectacular as they should have been.

View from the Surrey hills

The most interesting feature of day were a couple of groups of young women (probably students), armed with maps and wearing large backpacks. They appeared to be on some sort of orienteering challenge, but were seemingly hopelessly lost. Hopefully I was able to put one group back on the right track, but as I write this I wonder if they are still wandering across the hills?

So genealogy took a back seat today. Although we were walking in an area where my GASSON ancestors probably came from, I can’t really claim any genealogical connection. Weather and aching muscles permitting we will be back in Kent next Saturday to complete the next section, that will be two Saturdays in a row without genealogy, so I will probably start suffering withdrawal symptoms and have to get back into an archive the following weekend.

Tombstone Tuesday: Edward GASSON

20 Apr

This is the reason I went to Nuthurst, Sussex last week, to check the monumental inscription for Edward GASSON. I don’t really know anything more about Edward GASSON other than what is provided on the headstone.

Headstone of Edward GASSON

I have found him living at Monks Common in Nuthurst in the 1851 census, with his wife Mary. He gives his place of birth as Charlwood, Surrey and he is a farmer of 80 acres, employing three labourers.

He is probably the son of Edward and Elizabeth GASSON of Charlwood, and Edward senior is probably the son of John and Ann GASSON my 5x great-grandparents. Obviously more work is needed on Edward’s ancestry so I can confidently place him in my tree.

Time never stands stills in genealogy

26 Jan

Whilst going through my files and getting everything up to date I turned my attention to the SUMMERFIELD family. The family connection is through another TROWER, this time it was Martha, who was sister of Mercy and Mary, who I have mentioned many times already.

It didn’t seem that long ago that I last did some research on James and Martha (although I see it was back in May 2008 that I visited Felbridge, Surrey in search of gravestones), but so much more information is available online now in such a short time, that my research has been left behind.

Starting with their marriage, although James was from Rusper, Sussex and Martha was from Henfield, Sussex the marriage took place in London (it looks like Martha must have been working up in London). Previously I only had the GRO BMD index reference for the marriage, but now of course the London Parish Registers are available on Ancestry.co.uk, including the entry for James and Martha.

The 1911 census has added even more information to their stories. In 1911 they were living in Newdigate, Surrey with their two children Sidney Ambrose (born 1894) and Raymond James (born 1907). The census also revealed that there had been another child who had died by the time of the census, so I have added the task of find him/her to my to-do list.

The eldest son Sidney Ambrose was killed during the First World War, although apparently not whilst on active service. Fortunately his service record survived and is now available on Ancestry.co.uk, although as you can see below it didn’t escape unscathed.

Burnt Documents

It is not going to be easy to pick out the details from these scraps of paper, but it is going onto my to-do list. Hopefully I can find out the details surrounding Sidney’s death.

There are still the updated GRO BMD indexes to search on Ancestry.co.uk, hopefully they will enable me to find descendants of the surviving son Raymond James (possibly even living descendants), another item for the to-do list.

I was surprised that so much more needs to be added to my family tree in such a short time, and it worries me what else needs updating. It also makes me think I need to establish some sort of regular review, either once each new database goes online or after a fixed period of time.

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